Giving Children a Sporting Chance

The Kellogg’s® Health of the Nation 50-Hour Sports Challenge targets 5000 children and has events in both Gauteng and the Western Cape. Photo supplied.

It’s almost time for the seventh Kellogg’s Health of the Nation 50-Hour Sports Challenge, which gets 5000 young learners back ‘on the ball’ by keeping a ball in motion for 50 hours.

Organised by national youth sports development agency Sporting Chance, the fun-filled Challenge aims to inspire a lifelong passion for exercise and sport.

School children from various communities throughout Gauteng and the Western Cape will participate in the challenges at the Southern Suburbs Sport and Recreation Centre in Rosettenville, for three days from January 25, and in Cape Town at the Western Cape Sports School, in Kuils River, from February 15.

Held in association with Sporting Chance, Virgin Active, KIA Motors SA and Supersport Let’s Play, as well as radio partners SAfm and Good Hope fm, it is the largest sporting event of its kind in the country.

Children compete in up to 15 different indoor and outdoor sporting disciplines over the course of the three days. They are exposed to a huge variety of sports, including cricket, tennis, hockey, rounders, table tennis, badminton, netball, soccer, rope skipping, athletics and touch rugby.

According to coordinator Brad Bing, the Challenge is a step in the right direction towards reaffirming an active lifestyle amongst South African youth, a lengthy process, which is benefitting from both corporate and government support.

The Kellogg’s® Health of the Nation 50-Hour Sports Challenge exposes children to a huge variety of sports, including cricket, tennis, hockey, rounders, table tennis, badminton, netball, soccer, rope skipping, athletics and touch rugby. Photo supplied.

“The fitness of an entire generation of South African children has been compromised since physical education was significantly downscaled in the national school curriculum in 1999, and it will take another seven years before the reintroduced physical education programmes become fully functional, following comprehensive teacher education. Research has shown that children develop healthy habits by the age of 12.

“If you’re not playing sport or leading an active and healthy lifestyle by then, the chances are that sport and physical activity will not feature in your adult life,” says Bing.

Explaining the origin of the Challenge, Bing said that a 2004 study revealed that an alarmingly large percentage of South African children were already facing probable obesity-related health problems. “It was obvious that we needed to kick-start an awareness of the importance of exercise and living a healthy lifestyle, which we hoped would grow into a passion for sport and physical activity.”

‘There is a need for urgent attention from parents, teachers, organisations and other authorities to address the problems of childhood nutrition and physical activity. “Balanced nutrition and healthy eating combined with exercise are the cornerstones of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes sponsorship of the event,” says Bing.

“More than a quarter of a century of research supports a positive link between breakfast, mental alertness and physical performance. Eating breakfast may help children to do better in school by improving their memory, grades, attendance, psycho-social function and moods ,” says Kellogg’s Corn Flakes’ Brand Manager Jack Kruger. “Our involvement with this important initiative combined with the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Set For School promotion which gives families the chance to win educational prizes to the value of R1,25 million, supports our belief that a healthy body and mind are a winning combination.”

Bing said there is now fresh hope, with educators and national government developing a new awareness of the need to encourage children to adopt an active lifestyle. “While it will still be several years before teachers are fully qualified in physical education, this new attitude is encouraging and we hope will ultimately lead to a fitter, healthier nation.”

Schools or individuals wishing to participate in the Kellogg’ Health of the Nation 50-hour Sports Challenge can contact Natalie at Sporting Chance on 021 683 7299, log on to the Sporting Chance website, follow Sporting Chance on Twitter and Facebook.


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